At one point in the debate before the student government vote, two Palestinian students took the floor to describe what exactly life under occupation looks like: running from bombs, having rifles shoved in their faces as children, only getting water three times a week, not being able to visit family without passing through Israeli security checkpoints; the Nakba was mentioned and correctly identified as an attempt on the part of the Israeli government to commit genocide against Palestinians.
The response from WIFI’s leadership was as disjointed as it was offensive: since the Nakba, they argued, the Palestinian population has actually increased somewhat — thus, the Israeli government could not have carried out genocide. Obviously, no definition of the word genocide has anything to do with total change in population; the United Nations Genocide Convention specifically defines the term as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Palestinian students, outraged, asked what a high birth rate had to do with their right not to be ethnically cleansed from their own lands.
Continue reading at https://jacobinmag.com/2019/07/palestine-solidarity-williams-college-free-speech
WIFI’s leadership responded to this student by saying that this and other clear attempts at ethnic cleansing against Palestinians did not constitute genocide. When asked why the intentional displacement and killing of an ethnic minority would not be a textbook example of genocide, WIFI’s leadership pointed to the slight increase of the Palestinian population in recent years. The United Nations Genocide Convention specifically defines genocide as “acts intended [emphasis mine] to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Population decrease or increase has nothing to do with the definition of genocide, and attempts to redefine the term to protect a narrow political interest and invalidate the lived experiences of Palestinian students should be beyond the bounds of reasonable debate.
Continue reading at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/joseph-moore-it-wasnt-wifi-that-was-denied-free-speech,576190
A request by students to create a group supportive of Israel was rejected by the student government, the College Council, in late April, amid accusations that the group’s beliefs did not fit the moral values of the student body. In the face of complaints from national right-leaning news outlets, Jewish organizations and free speech groups, the college’s president and administration intervened, ultimately reversing the rejection in mid-May. When the campus comes back to life this fall, the Williams Initiative for Israel, or WIFI, will be a registered student organization, having full access to funding and services available to official student groups. But along the way, its birth sparked debates over pro-Israeli thought in the United States, scrutiny of how student groups win approval and the nature of campus political debate and free expression… Mohazzab Abdullah, a student who spoke against WIFI at meetings, said such rhetoric is similar to treating free speech like a “buzzword.”
“Free speech arguments need to be qualified,” Abdullah said. “I think that this campus should exclude and suppress pro-genocide discourse.”
Continue reading at https://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/student-group-ignites-tension-over-free-speech-at-williams-college,575240
one member of WIFI leadership asserted the Israeli state routinely killing Palestinians in order to displace them from their land did not constitute genocide because the Palestinian population as a whole had not declined, due to a high fertility rate. This is totally inconsistent with any definition of the word “genocide”, either provided by a dictionary or defined by international law and deeply offensive to Palestinians who have suffered repeated attempts at ethnic cleansing by the Israeli government.
… If the conversations that were had in the two College Council (CC) meetings are any indication of the positions that WIFI intended to promote on campus, then we ought to celebrate their proposal being denied. Williams ought not to provide a platform to groups that, when provided with first-hand testimony from Palestinian students about the violence of the occupation, attempt to redefine terms like genocide and colonialism to suit their own ends.
Continue reading at https://williamsrecord.com/2019/05/why-we-opposed-wifi-challenging-wifis-complicity-in-state-violence/